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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Would you pay extra to add the experience of a theme-park ride to an action movie?

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported early this week on a new technology designed to enhance the moviegoing experience:

Canadians will be among the first to feel what it’s like to fly with Harry Potter. D-BOX Technologies Inc. has signed on with the latest instalment in the popular fantasy series, titled Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to install “motion-enhanced” seats in one Canadian and five U.S. theatres. The seats move “in perfect sync” with the film’s flight, levitation and battle scenes, but sit still in the film’s calmer scenes.

(Makes me think of John Goodman’s cinema impressario in 1993’s Matinee, who created a system of shaking seats for 1950s movie theaters, to disastrous results.)
Presumably, this scheme is an attempt to combat piracy by making movie fans eager to pay for a multiplex ticket. And it’s another excuse, too, for theaters to hike up ticket prices… as Oh Gizmo! explains in its look at the high-tech seats: the seats will add $7 Canadian to the price of admission. Is it worth it? Oh Gizmo’s Andrew Liszewski:

The D-Box Motion Seats can kind of be compared to the experience you’d get from a ride at a high-tech theme park, but the range of motion on these seats is far more subtle. In fact, the seats don’t actually move at all, but tilt forward and back and side to side with a total range of about 15 degrees. And while that doesn’t seem like much, it’s more than enough to enhance the action in any film, particularly when you consider you’ll be enjoying the experience for 2+ hours at times. According to D-Box the seats are actually a bit larger than your standard theater seats, and that’s partly because they’ve got 3 brushless electric motors underneath which not only do an effective job at moving you around, but are also completely quiet.

We were shown a 20-minute clip from the beginning of the recently released Fast & Furious which is probably the perfect kind of film for the Motion Seats. The clip included a rather involved ‘car chase’ which admittedly was a lot cooler with the chair pitching and shifting underneath you, as well as a foot chase scene which was a bit subtler, but did a good job at showing off the range of motion the seats are capable of.

Does this sound appealing? Do you want your movie-theater seat to move more than the motion you get when the kid behind you kicks the back of your seat? Would you pay extra to add the experience of a theme-park ride to an action movie?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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  • Oliver

    Yeah, i read about those seats about a year ago, and I really want one, but they’re too expensive. I don’t know if i wanted to pay that much extra for a ticket though.

  • paul

    Wouldn’t that get a little messy with popcorn, pop, and making out in the back row?

  • John

    You betcha! Tried these a few weeks ago at a reseller in TO, these are freaking awesome. Can’t afford one for my house, but I will make the trip and get a real treat

  • misterb

    I was recently on a theme park ride in Singapore which was just 3-d and a moveable seat. If theme park rides are becoming movies, why not vice-versa?

    I would pay more, maybe $20 for full 3-D plus moving seat.

  • Rob


  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    Incidentally, Goodman’s character in Matinee – which is a terrific, sorely underrated film, I think – is based on the 1950s B-movie director William Castle, who really did plant buzzers under randomly selected cinema seats to give patrons the impression that the eponymous monster of his film The Tingler was loose in the cinema. There’s a great essay by John Waters about Castle in Waters’s book Crackpot.

    MaryAnn already pointed out in her Monsters Vs Aliens review that there seems to be a general Fifties vibe in the air at the moment, exemplified, of course, by the return of 3D. I think even the MPAA might admit that piracy has done the film industry some good if it forces them to revive this kind of old-fashioned showmanship. After all, a lot of blockbusters these days have B-movie plots anyways; you may as well bring the whole experience back.

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